Valverde wins San Sebastian classic
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Valverde wins San Sebastian classic

by Agence France-Presse at 11:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, riding for Caisse d'Epargne, won the San Sebastian classic race in Spain's northern Basque region here on Saturday in a pre-Olympic tune-up.

Valverde, 28, is one of the favourites for the men's road race honours at the Beijing Games which finishes near the Great Wall on August 9, when he will be hoping to live up to his childhood nickname of 'El Imbatido' (the unbeaten one).

At the Games, Valverde will challenge Italy's formidable reigning champion Paolo Bettini for gold and Saturday was an indication he is on form as he came through in a sprint finish to outlast Alexandr Kolobnev (CSC) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) after the 239km contest.

Bettini of Quick Step had to make do with fourth on the day as Valverde won out following a 40 rider-strong breakaway at the 55km mark which the Spaniard initially had to toil manfully to keep pace with.

With 47 riders battling it out in the final 100km, including Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, the tough got going as they bore down on the Jaizkibel climb 20km out and the ensuing grind up the Arkale climb.

Frenchman David Moncoutie then tried what ultimately petered out as a premature attack as he could only finish tenth and Valverde went on to savour a victory which had escaped his grasp in coming third 12 months earlier in a race won by Leonardo Bertagnolli, absent this time out.

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